Antipas L. Harris

There is no greater calling than the calling to love. Love is more than a mere feeling. Love cares, speaks, and serves. In a world that hungers for greatness only love propels us to such a thing! The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

The Urban Renewal Center (URC) is a clarion call in the city. From sidewalks stained by the blood of the slaughtered to prisons packed with undiscovered talent; from unwanted babies to brilliant misguided adults; from addictions to evictions. Many needs translate into opportunities for service. Now is the time to rise to the call.

A center for Christian thought, voice, and action, the DNA of URC is a concern about racial/ethnic inclusion, social justice, spiritual growth, and community leadership. URC is an arm of the local church to extend her reach beyond the walls of the church to champion justice and righteousness as central to Christ's mission. 

The Holy Spirit leads the church to the center of community involvement. Part of the Christian witness is to bear witness to Christ's call both to model and inspire the world through godly character, intentional engagement, compassionate attitude, social justice and biblical righteousness. 

Jesus said, "“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14–16

In response to our Savior's words, the Urban Renewal Center leads in coalition-builds coalitions among municipalities, the faith community, and the business sector. We offer public lectures and non-degree seeking courses to equip men and women for service to the church and society. We contribute to the public discourse on issues of concern and advocate for human dignity, recognizing that each person is created in the image of God. And, we provide opportunities to engage meaningful service to positively impact people and the city. 

Let's rise to the call!

Dr. Antipas

 
 
 

Admin Team

 
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Brittany Szkaradnik

Office Assistant

A South Jersey native, Rotary International Exchange Student in Lille, France, and Culinary Arts major. She studied International Relations at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall University and completed her Bachelor's in International Business and European Studies with a minor in Psychology at the College of Charleston.  She has worked at both the World Trade Center, Charleston and the Higdon Student Leadership Center. Brittany is also an honorary Global Scholar, Certified Global Business Professional & NASBITE certified.

Brittany and her family are active members at FPC attending: WOW, Celebrate Recovery, Women's Bible study, and VBS. She volunteers regularly within her community as well. Brittany was a Command Ombudsman and President of the Navy Wives Club of America, Norfolk. For fun, Brittany enjoys power lifting, attending community festivals, and whipping up something fun in the kitchen. You can usually find her: homeschooling her 3 beautiful children; at the Library, YMCA, or Church; or on a new adventure with her family and best friend/husband of ten years.  

Joel M. Phillips

IMPACT Homework Club Coordinator

A native of New Jersey, Joel has lived in in Virginia Beach since 2004 when he joined the Navy and was stationed at NAS Oceana. In 2009 he left the Navy to return to school and in 2012 graduated from Old Dominion University with a B.A. in German.  Joel, his wife Amy and his daughter Marisa are active members at FPC where he enjoys volunteering for service and outreach projects, teaching Sunday school and working with the youth group.

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Kaitlyn Martinsen

Office Assistant

Kaitlyn grew up in the diverse and beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. She and her husband Jon left Wisconsin to move to the Hampton Roads area in 2011, having been sent here by the Navy. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Human Services with a minor in Special Education and is a member of the National Organization for Human Services.

Kaitlyn spent the majority of her school years working in Special Education, the Youth to Youth organization, and with troubled at risk youth. Traveling throughout the USA and growing up in close proximity to diverse cities exposed her to the social panorama of society with its strengths and struggles. On a family trip in Mexico at 13 years old, Kaitlyn had her first real face-to-face experience with extreme poverty, which had a profound impact. A young girl, not much younger than herself was begging along with her own father who was blind. The image stayed with Kaitlyn all day. When it came time to pick a memento for the day, she really wanted a very beautiful doll but decided a small fabric turtle was more appropriate and asked her parents to please give the rest of what she would have spent to the little girl and her father when they walked passed again if they were still there. The desire to help those less fortunate has never wavered and has only grown as she has gained applicable education.

Along with her family, Kaitlyn is very active at First Presbyterian Church: Attending WOW, teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She steps in where needed. She believes that everyone can help change the world. You don't need money or power, you need passion. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Bloggers

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RACHEL SMITH

Rachel writes what she wishes the pulpits would address more. She addresses the issues that divide America, such as racism and immigration – the kind of stuff the principles of the gospel speaks to! Rachel offers thought-provoking words of wisdom on these and other issues from a Christian perspective. 

Rachel holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and Regent University. 

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SARAH BETH COWHERD 

Sarah’s passion for the disenfranchised sprung up from the fertile mountains of Nicaragua where she went on missions trips with First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk as a young teenager. Her desire to reach those without access to healthcare was born in the makeshift clinic rooms strewn together by tattered blankets hanging from the ceilings; where she translated in broken Spanish from doctor to patient. 

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Virginia and writes on the challenges of access to healthcare from the perspective of a nurse and a patient with chronic illness. She has worked regionally with refugees, immigrants, and hospice patients. She has also participated in social justice initiatives like Black Lives Matter and Norfolk’s M.A.D.E., and has advocated through legislative channels for access to healthcare for the sick, the disabled, and the disenfranchised. When she is not writing, you can find her drinking freshly roasted coffee by Vessel Craft Coffee, a small business she founded and owns.